My So-Called Life: Why I'm not a bestselling author

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The Independent Online

You know, I've always assumed that one day I would be fearfully rich and famous and as such, am always picking out the zillion-pound house I will live in when the time comes, rehearsing what I will say when I'm subjected to the most ruthless of light grillings on Parkinson, and I've even selected the car I will drive - the Audi TT seems perfect. Dinky, sporty, cheeky, expensive-ish but not too fast and flashy. Too fast and flashy, frankly, would just be silly because I am a very bad driver plus, according to my partner, "the only person I know who accelerates while parking".

You know, I've always assumed that one day I would be fearfully rich and famous and as such, am always picking out the zillion-pound house I will live in when the time comes, rehearsing what I will say when I'm subjected to the most ruthless of light grillings on Parkinson, and I've even selected the car I will drive - the Audi TT seems perfect. Dinky, sporty, cheeky, expensive-ish but not too fast and flashy. Too fast and flashy, frankly, would just be silly because I am a very bad driver plus, according to my partner, "the only person I know who accelerates while parking".

I don't dispute he has a point (I failed my driving test seven times, mostly for closing my eyes at roundabouts, which is something I still heartily recommend) and have yet to properly get to grips with parking. All that huffing and puffing and turning the steering wheel this way and that with the wheels rebelliously going in the opposite direction entirely. Bastards! Sometimes I am so relieved to have finally parked somewhere that I'll sit in the car all morning just feeling pleased with myself. This may sound boring, but if it's a great spot in a particularly hard-to-park area (Islington's Upper Street, for example, on a Saturday morning at the height of the Dualit toaster run) it's terrific fun. Drivers pull up alongside. "Are you going?" they mouth. "Sorry, no," you mouth back with one of those commiserating, sorrowful looks that say: Isn't it a bugger to park round here? Good luck! Last week, I turned away 72 cars before noon and felt this was time most satisfyingly spent.

Anyway, it suddenly, and chillingly, occurred to me the other day that, being the age I now am, either I am never going to get rich and lightly grilled by Parkinson, or I'm going to have to get my skates on. How to make money, though? A bestseller could be the thing, and would be if only I weren't so cruelly hampered by the following:

1. Complete lack of ideas.

2. Complete lack of talent.

3. Complete lack of self-discipline.

4. Complete lack of ability to tear myself from EastEnders, mostly in the hope that Sharon, who looks increasingly like Miss Piggy attempting a lip-quivering Posh impersonation, will kick her shoes off so we can see, once and for all, if there are sweet little trotters in there.

5. Complete lack of being pretty and a bit Pakistani or similar.

6. Complete lack of being a blonde comedienne-turned-psychotherapist now married to one of the best-loved and psychologically complex comedians in Britain.

7. Complete lack of ever having known Iris Murdoch, who, alas, was never my philosophy tutor at Oxford, although through no fault of my own, largely because I was at Leeds Poly studying something else entirely when I wasn't too busy failing driving tests.

This last peeves me the most, because if I had known Iris Murdoch I could certainly get a bestseller out if it, just like everyone else. Perhaps I could affect to have once glimpsed her on the bus. Iris: As Glimpsed on the No 28 Going Towards Kensington, by The Person Who Glimpsed Her The Most (with 35 full colour plates detailing the route, including the little-known request stop on Church Street and the driver change-over at Willesden Bus Garage). I feel robbed. Well robbed. I might have to go and park somewhere tricky to cheer myself up.

Thank Amazon Iÿm not having an identity crisis

Talking of books, I'm always overjoyed whenever I visit the Amazon website, largely because of the welcome screen that goes: "Hello, Deborah A Ross, we have recommendations for you. If you are not Deborah A Ross, please click here." As I am Deborah A Ross, I don't click there, but do click on the recommendations, because it would be churlish not to, them having gone to all that trouble. Anyway, on my last visit, the recommendations were Cognitive Therapy for Delusions, Voices and Paranoia (Wiley Series in Clinical Psychology) and Ariel and Sparkle Fish Sticker Book (Disney Press, five-star average customer review). How clever of them to work out that, when I'm not too busy being entirely bonkers, I enjoy nothing more than colouring in! It's amazing!

Actually, the banks are much better at working out who you are. I recently had my Switch card stolen and didn't notice until my bank called to ask if I really had visited Asda, Leytonstone on several occasions. I assured them I had not. They said they thought as much, that according to their computer I was very much a Waitrose person and, let's face it, once a Waitrose person, you are very rarely an Asda person ever again. This is true. I've been to Asda once or twice, but found the amount of child-slapping per aisle rather alarming. Whereas in Waitrose, north London (massively busy car park, can mouth "no" sorrowfully for hours), physical cruelty is spurned in favour of the more discreet acts of mental cruelty, a middle-class speciality. "Mum, please can I have Sunny Delight? Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please?"

"Sweetheart, if you beg for Sunny Delight one more time I'm going to have no alternative but to triple your violin lessons."

"But, mum, please..."

"...Quadruple your private tutoring sessions."

"But..."

"...And make you wear a scratchy coat with velvet collar, even to bed and when you go to the toilet and while you're doing flashcards."

"But... pesto it is then, mum."

Come to think of it, I could write a best-selling guide to parenting.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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